Behrenbruch earns gold as brave Sebrle misses medal
|Pascal Behrenbruch of Germany accumulated a personal best tally of
8558 points to take the coveted decathlon gold in Helsinki.
But the 27-year-old German had effectively secured the European title almost two hours earlier in the penultimate event as he hurled his first javelin throw out to a season's best of 67.45m to put himself out of reach of his nearest challenger, Oleksiy Kasyanov of the Ukraine on the second day of the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki.
For Roman Sebrle, the former Olympic and world champion who has twice won this title, the attempt to finish what must surely be his last European Championships on the podium fell just short. The 37-year-old Czech athlete, whose world record of 9026 points was only eclipsed at last weekend's US trials by Ashton Eaton, had to settle for sixth place with 8052 points after a doggedly competitive effort had kept him in contention for bronze throughout the two days.
As the big men slogged round the track, Behrenbruch knew he had a margin of around 30 seconds on his nearest challenger, Kasyanov, who was never more than 10 metres ahead of him. The German finished with a season's best of 4min 34.02sec to earn a personal best of 8558 points, with Kasanov, who clocked 4min 32.66, taking silver with 8321.
Bronze for all Sebrle's efforts went to Ilya Shkurenyov of Russia, who ran a personal best of 4:30.41 to finish with another personal best of 8219. Behind him Serbia's Mihail Dudas and Gael Querin of France finished with personal bests of 8154 and 8098 respectively.
Behrenbruch had overtaken the overnight leader, Kasyanov, with a decisive effort in the eighth of the 10 events, the pole vault, and the Ukrainian far less strong than the man from Offenbach in the javelin fell decisively behind in the next discipline when he could only manage a best effort of 52.37. That left Behrenbruch on 7840 points, with a 246 points cushion over Kasyanov going into the 1500m finale.
Meanwhile Sebrle, whose best ever javelin throw of 71.18 came five years ago, had set about trying at least to match his 2012 best of 66.93. A final round effort of 61.78 saw him enter the final event on 7438 points, just 39 adrift of the bronze medal position occupied by Shkurenyov, who had achieved a season's best of 56.70.
Behrenbruch put himself into pole position ahead of the two final disciplines with a personal best vault of 5.00m, finishing the morning session on 6989 points to the Ukrainian's 6970. Shkurenyov did his best to safeguard third place as he won the pole vault with 5.20, taking his total to 6789, with Sebrle, who produced a season's best of 4.90, 116 points behind on 6673.
Behrenbruch had begun the second day with a season's best of 14.16sec in the 110m hurdles and a personal best of 48.24m in the discus, reducing the overnight lead of 61 points to 42 before surpassing himself once again in the pole vault, where Kasyanov retired after clearing 4.80.
The Ukrainian, who recorded 14.23 in the 110m hurdles, appeared to limp away from the track holding his left hamstring, but the problem was clearly not a serious one.
Adam Helcelet's 14.24 moved him up into third place overall at the expense of Dudas, who ran 14.78, but these were only two of six effective challengers for the bronze separated by just 32 points, with Shkurenyov, Querin, Norman Muller of Germany and Sebrle all in the mix.
Sebrle indicated his competitive pressure was still operating at a high level as he punched the air after crossing the line in 14.45 from lane eight.
Behrenbruch's momentum continued in the discus as he produced his personal best in a third and final attempt which left him roaring with a combination of effort and satisfaction.
Kasyanov produced the second best throw of the day, 47.75, but with the pole vault not his favourite event to come, and then the javelin, at which his German rival had a far better record looming, he threw his final attempt into the cage netting.
Shkurenyov moved into third place overall with 44.82, totalling 5817. Sebrle, meanwhile, moved up to fifth position after a second round throw of 44.05, just 24 points adrift of the bronze position.
Kasyanov's 4.80 in the pole vault was just two centimetres shy of his personal best, but when he retired from the event Behrenbruck went on to take full advantage.
Meanwhile Sebrle was charging on in pursuit of a podlum place. By the time the veteran Czech performer had his third attempt at 4.70 the conditions had become difficult as the temperature dropped to 15 degrees and drifting rain prompted spectators around the stadium to don their colourful cagoules. He sailed over, and then cleared 4.80. And the sun had returned as Sebrle cleared 4.90 his best this season to put himself into fourth place overall. But it was to be his highest position.